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name: Ignition of paper due to the reaction between ammonium nitrate, zinc shavings and sodium chloride
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Ammonium nitrate is an effective oxidizer, zinc is a reducing agent. But nothing happens if we mix these substances. However, if we add sodium chloride to the ammonium nitrate and add water, the following catalytic decomposition reaction will begin:
NH4NO3 -[Cl-]→ N2O + 2H2O
Here Cl--ions are catalysts of the decomposition reaction. The addition of water is very important. The decomposition reaction is exothermic, i.e. the mixture is heated in the reaction. Upon heating the remaining ammonium nitrate melts and melted ammonium nitrate reacts with zinc:
Zn + NH4NO3 → N2 + ZnO + 2H2O
This reaction is very exothermic too. As a result, the paper ignites.